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How Do I Become a Neonatal Surgeon?

A neonatal surgeon has received advanced training beyond that required to become a pediatric surgeon.
The residency to become a neonatal surgeon can last up to eight years.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2014
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Becoming a neonatal surgeon requires a commitment to many years of education and training. These surgeons operate on some of the most vulnerable patients, as they specialize in treating newborns and may even provide care to babies who are yet to be born. In most cases, this career requires a high school diploma, four years of college, four years of medical school, and residency training that may last for up to eight years. In addition to this extensive training, many jurisdictions require aspiring neonatal surgeons to spend an additional two years in pediatric surgery training that focuses on neonatal care.

If you want to become a neonatal surgeon, the first step you will usually have to take is completing high school. Science and math classes, in particular, may help prepare you for the educational path you will pursue, but composition and public-speaking classes may prove important as well. College admissions staff will likely consider all of your grades when you apply, so it is important to do well in all your subjects. Many colleges will consider your participation in extracurricular activities and groups as well. Additionally, volunteer activities may help boost your chances of being accepted to the college of your choice.

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In most cases, you won’t have to choose a particular major to become a neonatal surgeon, as most medical schools will accept students who've pursued just about any major. Some aspiring surgeons choose science or pre-medicine majors, however, and both can provide good preparation. Still, you may also gain acceptance to medical school after completing a liberal arts degree or studying math. More important than your choice of majors may be the grades you earn in college, the extracurricular activities you pursue, and the recommendations of your professors. In addition, you will usually have to take a medical school entrance exam to gain entry to medical school.

Medical school usually lasts for four years and not only includes classroom education, but also clinical training. In most jurisdictions, aspiring doctors have to pass a licensing examination to become doctors as well. Once you've completed medical school and passed this exam, however, your training to become a neonatal surgeon is not over. In most jurisdictions, you will have to complete a five- to eight-year residency followed by two years of pediatric surgery training that focuses on neonatal care to prepare for this career. Once you have finished this specialty training, you may have to pass another exam to be board certified in this field to become a neonatal surgeon.

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